Copenhagen 18 November 2013 – Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation), owner of Specialisterne, announced today that it is launching a new initiative, the goal of which is to create 1000 jobs in Denmark for people with autism and similar challenges. The initiative entitled ”1000 Jobs in Denmark” will be funded over the next 30 months by a donation of almost DKK 5.4 million from the VELUX FOUNDATIONS. The VELUX FOUNDATIONS are non-profit foundations created by Villum Kann Rasmussen, the founder of VELUX and other companies in the VKR Group.
This initiative will be driven by the Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation) through partnerships with the corporate sector, public institutions and other stakeholders in the labor market. The ultimate goal – together with the creation of 1000 jobs – is to change existing attitudes among Danish employers towards hiring people with autism, and to generate interest among these employers in placing people with autism into meaningful jobs where their unique competencies, such as attention to detail, strong logical and analytic skills, an above-average ability to concentrate for long periods of time, diligence and zero-fault tolerance, can create maximum value.
”We are so proud and delighted to receive this support from the VELUX FOUNDATIONS,” says Steen Thygesen, CEO Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation). “It will provide us with ample opportunity to establish pilot programs with numerous key stakeholders, with a view to job creation for this target group.”
Meaningful and lasting employment
Pilot programs are being planned with partners in Zealand, Funen and Jutland. The current expectation is that, over the next 30 months, approximately 150 people with autism and similar challenges will be offered the option to participate in a resource assessment program that includes job training and internships at participating partner sites. The ultimate goal is that the majority of these participants will secure meaningful and lasting employment.
According to Steen Thygesen a number of key stakeholders in the Danish labor market, as well as corporate players, have already shown interest in the initiative.
”We are looking forward to creating more value for the Danish state, for the labor market here and, not least, for the people who are at the very core of what we do,” he says. ”Right now, it is critical for us to engage the corporate sector in a meaningful dialog, so that we can gain a deeper understanding of what their current situation is, what their needs are, and what challenges they are facing, so that together we can develop the solutions and skills necessary – solutions and skills that people with autism can deliver. This could be, for example, jobs in areas such as testing and quality control of software, websites and products or digitization, operations and system management. We will be reaching out to a number of companies here in Denmark, and also invite any organizations or companies who are interested in collaborating with us on this initiative to contact us.”
Build a bridge between the labor market and people with autism
Today, people with autism are largely excluded from the labor market. This is primarily due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of autism in the workplace, creating a barrier to real integration of this group into the workforce.
Thorkil Sonne, who founded Specialisterne in 2004 and is today Chairman of the Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation) board says, “There is a real demand in Denmark for qualified IT staff. Despite this, it’s very hard for people with autism to achieve full-time employment, even though they clearly possess the skills and talents that are so much in demand and that can add real value. What’s more, local authorities simply lack the knowledge of how to take the motivation, skill and knowledge that people with autism have, and translate this into meaningful and productive employment. With this initiative, we want to build a bridge between the labor market and people with autism.”
Creating jobs for people with autism also has a clear and measurable social-economic value to the Danish state. A recently published report from the Specialisterne Foundation (former Specialist People Foundation) showed that every Danish krone invested in a Specialisterne employee with autism generates a net gain of DKK 2.20 (more than double) from welfare payment savings, taxes paid and other contributions to state coffers, which resulted in an annual gain of over DKK 87,000 per employee. By creating 1000 jobs in Denmark for people with autism, the net gain for the state would be over DKK 87 million.
For more information on the above contact:
Henrik Thomsen, COO
+45 53 17 26 10
Eva Beckmann, Press & Communication VELUX FOUNDATIONS
+45 20 84 20 85